This week we spoke to Marc Cornelius, founder and managing director of 8020 Communications. 

8020 Communications is a PR agency specialising in aviation, travel & transport. Marc will be telling us about his role, what he does outside of work, top tips for creating a successful PR strategy and more!

What does your day-to-day role as Founder and Managing Director of 8020 Communications entail?

My role’s gone through a quite an evolution in the past 18 months as our team has continued to grow and mature. I’ve gone from being the person involved in the ‘doing’ of most day-to-day client work to being more focused on creating the environment for others to thrive, while still helping to generate ideas and advising clients on thorny issues. You spend a long time working to get to this point and it is both exciting and a little unsettling when it arrives! However, it’s terrifically rewarding to see great work happening around me and to get positive feedback from clients on our excellent team.

What led you to set up 8020?

I’ve been lucky enough to work in large agencies and in an FTSE-100, learning from great bosses like Jim Donaldson (now at FleishmanHillard Fishburn), Deborah Saw (now at Newgate Communications) and Bert Moore (now at Ketchum). However, I still had things to prove to myself and wanted the challenge of building something – to feel more of a ‘pilot’ than a ‘passenger’ in career terms. The chance came when I relocated with my family back from a stint in the Middle East. 8020’s focus on aviation, travel and transport developed over the first few years, almost by accident, and I’ve never looked back.

What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office?  

I’m a morning person and that’s when I read diverse sources looking for interesting ideas, which can hopefully be connected as opportunities for clients or new business. Meltwater is a great tool that we all use, and I complement it with an RSS reader for more ‘serendipitous’ reading. I still mourn the passing of Google Reader, which was a fantastic tool for grazing news from all over the place, but The Old Reader is almost as good.

How do you go about coming up with PR opportunities for less interesting or ‘boring’ industries?

Every business is interesting to someone and our role is to find the way into those stories. We handle both B2B and B2C work, spanning trade, national and lifestyle media, as well as social media and marketing content. The needs of each differ, but common principles we apply are: to read widely to feed inspiration; to generate news interest by looking for jeopardy, to think visually; and to be uncompromising about clear and concise writing – if you can’t explain the story in a few words, you don’t have a story yet.

How does Meltwater support you in your role?

We’ve always made a point of investing in tools that help us cut admin down to size. We’re also eager to demonstrate the value of our work graphically to clients and their bosses. Meltwater has been a sound investment in both respects and is appreciated by everyone.

What was the last book or article you read?

I don’t read business books anymore because I’ve found that experience is the better teacher. Right now, I’m reading ‘The Battle of Britain’ by James Holland (very relevant to our client London Biggin Hill Airport) and ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje – I saw the film 20 years ago, which stays with me to this day but had never read the book. They’re both wonderful reads.

What do you do when you’re not working?

Family is my major focus, particularly being a taxi service taking my sons to their various mountain biking destinations. I love cooking, which gives me an illusion of control that’s sometimes lacking at work. I also finally cracked running a couple of years ago and am training for my next half marathon.

Have you got any tips for someone starting out in the industry?

Get a job somewhere that will invest in you. The PR skillset keeps getting broader and it’s vital to keep acquiring skills and knowledge.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Accept who you are and work with people who can do the things you can’t.

Is there anything you own that you can’t live without?

My Spotify account.

Thanks Marc for your insights!